Architects: Takahiro Endo     Photography: Yasuhiro Nakayama     Construction Period:  2023     Location:  Karuizawa, Japan

This is a plan to rebuild a villa for 14 people in four families. The owner’s family had owned a villa in this area for many years and had a vast amount of experience. The site is located in a vast forest of chestnut, fir, and dogwood trees, and the neighboring houses cannot be seen. In the summer, they cooled watermelons in the stream at the bottom of the valley, and in the fall, they went out into the forest to pick chestnuts, and the way the owners spent their time was to learn from what they saw. Every year during summer vacation, all the members come to stay here for a week.

A “place” to receive experiences
The owner summed up the experience of coexisting with others while cooking three meals, cleaning, and doing laundry as like a training camp.” The design was based on these two experiences:going out into the woods” and something like a training camp.”

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The total floor area was set at approximately 200 square meters, which is the same as the existing building, and the plan was to be elongated from north to south to maximize contact with the forest sloping towards the east. By creating a long and narrow plan approximately 30 meters long, it was decided to go beyond the flat area created for the existing building and construct the building on an area where the natural slope remains. There will be a maximum difference in level of 1m between the flat part and the sloped part, and the plan was to take advantage of this difference. Specifically, it is a one-story building with multiple steps that follow the topography, with the long side of approximately 30m east to west made up of post pillars and sliding aluminum sashes, so that you can “step out into the forest” from anywhere. And so. In order to realize this form, the structure was designed so that the horizontal force received by the large, light roof on the outside is deflected by the small, heavy roof on the inside.

When a stay here begins, the wide veranda and wet veranda located near the “family area”, which is the bedroom of each of the four families, is sometimes filled with various activities, such as the living room, entrance, terrace, and laundry drying area. Steps create opportunities for people to feel like they belong. In addition, the floor surface with steps allows you to experience the sloping terrain. Furthermore, by having the concrete foundation peek out over the steps, we are reminded that this building is connected to the topography.

This building, which is neither a residence nor a villa or a training camp, was shaped by the owner’s family’s determination to spend time together with the forest. It is not just a place to spend leisure time, but a form that embodies the relationship between the owner’s family and the forest. This is a proposal for aplace to be” where the activities of this place can be passed on to the next generation and further experience can be accumulated.

Text provided by the architect.